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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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My Public Inbox

I'm going to pin this post to the top of my profile so there's a place for anyone to publicly ask me a question, and I'll do my best to reply when I can.

I'm happy to offer advice primarily on the intersection of software, entrepreneurship and career.

Happy coding!

Discussion (50)

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george profile image
George Nance

How did you grow enough of a following to launch a social network? Any advice for someone who wants to do the same?

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo

Yes, can you please give us advice about how to grow an audience as a dev?

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Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything

I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't stop working on the project for 10 years, even if traction took forever. Then I methodically worked on content creation and observing what stuck and could lead to further opportunities. It was years of growing on Twitter before even typing rails new for what became DEV.

Giving myself the room to do a lot of observing while methodically building helped ensure some amount of success. But it's also an area that combines several different skillsets of mine.

FWIW it's going to be way easier for folks to build from scratch on Forem (the extraction from DEV we're working hard on).... We'll soon launch a Forem app which will act as a discovery mechanism for independent Forem social networks hosted in a distributed way, but discoverable through one app.... It's going to be really really cool.

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Syed Faraaz Ahmad

I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't stop working on the project for 10 years

You must have had exceptional belief in DEV community then

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo • Edited on

Thanks for answering!

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything

You must have had exceptional belief in DEV community then

I had belief in my own interest in seeing an improvement in online communities. My sense was that I wouldn't get bored of trying to help because I really cared. So with that in mind I also promised myself I wouldn't give up.

In prior ventures I'd either gotten bored or given up primarily because I either didn't truly care about the mission deep down, or got involved with people I didn't like or respect as founders and people. I made sure with this venture to solve for some of those fundamentals early on and let the success come with patience.

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elequ profile image
Elena Williams

Sorry if I missed it, but how many years has it been (since the 10-year stop watch started, anathem-style)?

My snooping suggests ... 8-ish? Though this could be completely misguided.

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Christopher Wray

Do you now make enough money to support yourself with DEV?

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything

DEV (Forem) was once a ramen story (not paying ourselves, running out of money etc)...

But now the company is pretty well funded and building a very sustainable business model around hosting Forems.

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Christopher Wray

Awesome 👏

Congratulations. I will do my best to read that other article.

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Iain Freestone • Edited on

Hi Ben, is there any way to get analytics on a post made to dev.to? The number of views figures are nice to see but would love to be able to track where the visitors came from.

Thanks for the great work on this site.

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Temani Afif

Hi Ben, I hope you don't mind I used your avatar to create a Loader meme: dev.to/afif/i-made-100-more-css-lo... ?

PS: You may have missed my ping so I am writing you here.
Cheers!

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything

Sorry I saw it, but didn't react. I love it 😅.

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krishna kakade

Hello Ben
i hope you know me a little bit about
but still I am krishna kakade. Currently I am in my last year of computer science and engineering from India and mostly working in web development related technologies. and i am interested in joining the devto/forem frontend development team as fresher student because i love to write blogs for forem and also i would to like to join core development team of forem and i also have to learn ruby and rails but i will learn it i can join within next 15 days you can also check my personal website here:- krishnadevz.github.io
and resume here :
I am ready to work hard and consistently for the betterment of the company's products.
thank you
have a nice day
kind regards
krishna kakade

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Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything

Would you be thinking of this as an internship/apprenticeship sort of opportunity?

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krishna kakade • Edited on

Yes and also I am about too graduate in next two months thank you 😊

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krishnakakade profile image
krishna kakade

any updates ?

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krishnakakade profile image
krishna kakade

?

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Max Phillips

Hi Ben, I read the manifesto essay for Forem recently and was quite excited to see so many of the issues with the current state of the internet expressed so eloquently :)

I was wondering if you have any advice for building successful business models for open source software?

Thanks for starting this, I'm excited to see more community focused software in the future!

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Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything

I was wondering if you have any advice for building successful business models for open source software?

Pay a lot of attention to what is established and working (read up on open core), but merge that with an exploration of what hasn’t been tried in the space you’re in — what is the unique way you’ll apply some good established ideas?

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Max Phillips

Thanks for the reply! I hadn't heard of open core I'll read up on that. I'm currently studying arts and social media at university, and its been very interesting to see how the design choices made by platforms are impacting their use (although also a bit maddening at times).

I think Forem's community-first approach is definitely the right track to be on. The values of open source seem to be pretty well aligned with the direction social media should be taking, though its surprising how rarely open source is considered as an option for that sort of every-day-person-facing software.

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InHuOfficial

Hi Ben

I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying interacting with the community you, Jess etc. have built.

I have 2 questions:-

  1. Is there anything on the roadmap to make the editor better. Things like selecting text to add bold etc. or better yet a list of the liquid tags that you can click to insert a template for them as I am constantly having to look them up as a new member!

    1. How do you select people for the podcast? I was interested in this post advertising an upcoming podcast on accessibility but don't know what you all want to see before considering someone to talk on a subject! (and I suppose the third question is has the podcast gone ahead with a different title as I can't find it!)

Once again thanks for a great platform!

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InHuOfficial

p.s. edit seems to be broken for me the last couple of days so obviously those should be numbered 1 and 2 🤣🤣

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Sean Allin Newell

How's the fam?

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Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything

I haven't been able to see most of my family in over a year (Canadian), but generally doing pretty well. I'm very grateful for the Canadian government assistance through the pandemic for the folks in my family who have needed it.

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Olivier Guimbal

Have you started many projects that could become companies to you ? Which proportion of your ideas did you actually start writing code for ?
If so, what was your reciepe to know if a project is worth it ?
And how would you know when persistence on a project becomes obstination, and that it is time to abandon it ?

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything
  1. Yes, by personality and interests I'm not company company company, I really appreciate non-commercial initiatives, but generally my creative impulse is fiddling on stuff that could become companies.
  2. In the past: like 90%. I'm out of the "side project" phase of my life so I can dedicate my time to building the company, but in the past I've not hesitated to write a little code just to even tease out my excitement for the project.
  3. Having a clear path to actual distribution and customer growth is probably the biggest thing. If it's unclear who the hell might wind up actually adopting it, it's hard to pursue.
  4. I think if there is no path to adoption/distribution it may be worth abandoning, but a huge breakthrough for me with DEV was just deciding not to abandon it as a rule. So I selected something I knew would keep my personal interest even if it took a long time to reach adoption. So the first year+ was extremely methodical laying of the groundwork for some future growth.
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Bobby Iliev

No questions at the moment, but just wanted to say thank you for the great platform!

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miu profile image
Manu Miu

Hey Ben,
Thank you so much for creating this amazing dev community! I highly appreciate all your sweat and tears you've put into building it!

In your comment here you're saying that you're "building a very sustainable business model around hosting Forems".

May I ask what your business model is? So how do you make money (or what are your future plans to make money) with dev.to?

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coderslang profile image
Coderslang: Become a Software Engineer

Hey Ben! Thank you for this AMA.

Is there an ETA for the first stable/public release of Forem?

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything

We've been hesitant to give a date on some of this because there's been a lot of discovery needed on both stability of the hosting options while at the same time ironing out all the edge cases where historically with DEV we've been able to dip into a coding environment and for this to run effectively it shouldn't need that. With that being said, things are getting a little clearer:

The first stamped down supported self-hosted option. I don't know exactly when the release will be, but we're pretty close here... Expect an ETA soon. I don't want to make any promises but we're finally seeing the finish line.

For our hosted version, Forem Cloud, while it's stable for us, the thing we need to work out is orchestration so we can effectively automate the management of n number of Forems. This will come in the second half of this year.

Thanks for your patience! Our end goals are incredibly ambitious and Forem is going to change the Internet!

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Coderslang: Become a Software Engineer

Thank you, Ben! Looking forward to the release.

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Mitch Jackson

Thanks for bringing us dev.to!

How do you like your coffee? Pour-over, french press, keurig? Milk or sugar? Light, medium or dark roast?

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Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything

I think I prefer medium roast, but as I don't have a strong preference, I like to mix things up. My favorite coffee treat is a good artisan latte on a cool fall day (like, I don't know what exactly I mean by "artisan", but I used to live in Brooklyn, which is full of great takes on coffee) but too many lattes are not great on the ole waistline, so I usually take my coffee black.

My wife and I got this Jura machine as a wedding gift and it is really amazing. Probably not something we'd have ordinarily budgeted for.

coffee

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Akash Deshpande

Love this idea Ben!

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything

Thank you :)

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mvoloskov profile image
Miloslav 🏳️‍🌈 🦋 Voloskov

Yo, I can't message you, it just says this:

However it worked on August 22 (my last message).

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lepinekong

Hi Ben,

Github markdown supports Base 64 image, could dev.to also ?

Thansk.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything

Probably could, if there isn’t an existing issue about this, how about making one?

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Kevin M. Mansour

The Lanuch date of dev.to site .. As I searched in google but did not found any information

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Rahul Jha

I just found out about your website. Pretty freakin' dope. Absolutely love it. ♥️

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007hyno

How do u create this beautiful social media website like what do u use for Front end , backEnd and DataBase?
This website inspires me a lot to build a website like this too.☺

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mnm is not mail

Are there recommendations/guidelines for building an audience on DEV?

If not, could you draft some?

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Gedalya Krycer

Hi Ben!

Is it possible to use the dev.to API to pull account-specific information (page views, reactions, etc) without dealing with CORS?

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Sean Allin Newell • Edited on

Do you think companies would ever choose a Forem instance over their own blog attached to their wordpress site?

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marcellothearcane

What's the roadmap for moderation? There's some things I'd like to see!

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything

We will have a more well-described general roadmap soon. If you want to see something implemented please advocate for it on an issue on GitHub or start a discussion on forem.dev

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Andrew (he/him)

What advice do you have for an American moving to Canada?

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Jenna Wagner

You are also among the dev.to developer

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Ben Halpern Ask Me Anything

Yup